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The Meaning of Glückauf

glueckauf_300“Glückauf!”, also written as “Glück Auf!”, is the German miner’s greeting. Literally this can be translated with “Luck up” or “Luck open”, but this is meaningless in English, so a better translation would be “Good luck”. Its original meaning has been lost during the centuries, but the most reasonable explanation is that it means “the ore veins shall open up for the miner”. Another explanation is described in the section on “Holy Barbara”. However, a translation does not carry the meaning of “Glückauf”. For a German miner, greeting someone with this word means that you belong to and care for each other, and that you belong to the same family: the family of all miners in the world.

It is not clear where this greeting originated, but it has been used since the 16th century. The oldest written evidence dates from 1575, when Hans Zobeld named one of his mines in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) “uffm Glück auff”. In the 17th century, “Glück auf!” was a common greeting for miners in the Erzgebirge. In the course of history, the word was exported to all the countries that were once part of Germany, and today you can find similar expressions in the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, or Slovenia.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 February 2023 14:11  

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